Top 10 Underrated Children’s Books (Part II)

Here’s part two of the top 20 I started last week. Next week I’m doing a supplementary Top 10 Underrated Children’s Books by Authors Famous for Other Works.

11. I want my hat backJon Klassen, 2011. “A sneaky rabbit, a growing sense of threat and revenge, all aimed at young children. Unbeatable” – Alistair Magowan. “A classic tale of love, loss and revenge. Beautiful illustrations and a great plot twist” – James Whetlor.

12. Frog and Toad Tales, Arnold Lobel, 1970-79. “No one can resist friendship, philosophy and gentle humor” – Julia Paolitto. Also nominated by Joe Lee.

13. The giant jam sandwichJohn Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway1972. “Beautifully written absurd verse, amusing children and adults alike” – Chem 2006. Enthusiastic endorsements from Svennig, The Burkeshottian and Clareine Enderby, and from Grafica, who said Lord “was one of my tutors at Brighton Art College 1963-65” .

14 The Uncle Series, JP Martin, 1960-73. “A millionaire elephant rolls around on a tractor while its dastardly enemies plot its demise” – Scope Davies. “Uncle is a velvet dressing gown-wearing elephant who lives in a castle and scares away gloriously horrible villains. An Eccentric World of Improbable Inventions” – Clarissa Reilly. “Extremely silly and now almost forgotten” – Clement Walsh. Supporting nomination by Jonathan Metzer.

fifteen. annieThomas Meihan, 1977. “Book of syrup musicals, but it gives a fantastic introduction to the great depression and poverty of 1930’s America. I was really surprised how good it was,” said Thomas Penny. Gili Bar-Hillel Semo said she “made the mistake of lending it once and it never came back”.

16 holesLouis Sachar, 1998. “Just because of his action: two unlikely, eccentric stories, one in the past, one in the present that intertwine so perfectly that the resolution is pure joy when it comes – and a good, strong moral arc on top of that” – Ministry of Quiz. Supporting nomination: Rupert Hawksley.

17 Aunt RobboAnn Scott Moncrieff, 1941. “Eleven-year-old Hector goes on the run with his great-aunt. Funny and subversive. I remember laughing out loud and it was one of my favorites” – Hannah Roberts.

18 The cricket in Times SquareGeorge Selden, 1960. “A badass mouse, a city cat, a country cricket, an Italian working-class family and a dash of opera. Anything on the New York Subway” – Mathew Lyons. Supported by Steve May.

19 The MennymsSylvia Waugh, 1993. “A bizarre but haunting and poignant series about a family of rag dolls trying to live a normal human life” – Stephen Dilley. Supported by Ken Patrick.

20 Enchanted lifeDiana Wynne Jones, 1977 (and the rest of the Chrestomanci series). “Wonderful performances, well-written, fully developed characters, all connected but very different” – Andrew Shimmin. “Amazingly imaginative and original” – Conor Downey. Also nominated by Stephen Nichols.

To keep up to date with the latest opinions and comments, sign up for our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter click here

Apologies to the late Mrs Jones who should have been listed under J but I mistakenly thought her surname was Wynne Jones.

Next week: Underrated Children’s Books by Famous Authors.

Coming up: Jesters as Boris Johnson prepares to leave the stage.

Please send your suggestions and ideas for future Top 10 to me on Twitter or email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.